The Boondock SaintsSymbolismThe Boondock Saints follows brothers; Connor and Murphy McManus as they set out to rid South Boston of the evil that is: murderers, rapists, and organized crime. Believed to have the divine right from god to kill the McManus brothers begin to "take out" all that is bad and corrupt. Throughout the movie, director Troy Duffy displays many forms of symbolism through visualizations. A majority of these visualizations are ones of religion and moral beliefs.
The director opens the movie with both brothers in church listening to their priest talk about a vicious murder in broad daylight that no one came forward and testified to. The brothers then walk out of the church; kiss their Celtic crosses; and leave. This shows the viewer that crime, justice, murder and religion are all going to be involved in the story line. The screen then goes to panoramic view of Boston with Irish music in the background, conveying the setting for the audience and also it lets everyone know these two men are Irish.
The next scene has Connor and Murphy in an Irish bar in South Boston with their friend Rocco who is connected to the Mafia (Yakavetta family), but does not know they secretly do not want him around and try to kill him later in the movie. While in the bar two Russians are introduced into the movie. This displays the two main sources of evil that the McManus brothers will be fighting. A fight ensues and the Russians are left badly beaten. The following scene starts with Paul Smecker (William Dafoe) of the FBI at a crime scene where the two Russians are dead. He states how the neighborhood is predominately Irish and is surprised someone called in the murders. This goes to show the type of society in South Boston; the fact that the people overlook these types of situations because either they are used to violence or do not care for Russians.
The McManus's then show up to the police department to tell agent Smecker how the incident unfolded. The audience then gets to see how the brothers killed the two Russians. As the Russians are taking Connor out of the apartment the director shows his and Murphy's Celtic crosses hanging on the wall. The crosses are depicted before and after every person that they kill. The Celtic people believed heavily in courage, hospitality and generosity and the cross represented both of these. The director portrays the brothers as being generous for being hospital to "good" people and courageous for holding their own and coming out on top in their unforgiving attacks. Also you will notice the director focusing on a tattoo on the trigger finger of both men. On one it says Veritas which is Latin for truth and the other Aequitas which means justice.
Throughout the movie Connor and Murphy frequently hear the voice of an elder man speaking to them. He says things like: "Power hath descended forth from thy hand, may our feet swiftly carry out thy command." and "Never shall innocent blood be shed. Yet the blood of the wicked shall flow like a river. The three shall spread their blackened wings and be the vengeful striking hammer of God." It is because of this voice that they both believe that they have the ordained right to rid the city of those that do not follow "moral codes of behavior". The director displays this in the opening church scene and in the scene shortly after the brothers confess to killing the Russians while they dramatically awake from sleeping.
After the public finds out that Connor and Murphy were the ones that killed the corrupt Russians the director shows a newspaper that labeled them "Saints". This begins to raise the question: is killing for good, ok? This is a very controversial question for the society of Boston. Some people think they are doing well and others think they are wrong. This would happen in real life because not all people are religious and would believe that these two got their mission from god. The brothers never the less are basically seen as holy and looked up to by citizens as role models through their unmerciful acts. Connor and Murphy show that they have close encounters with god and the divine. Troy Duffy represents the McManus brothers as having the ambition to help the good of Boston from the beginning which is symbolic in a scene towards the end which I will talk about later.
The next murders that the guys take place in are those of major players in a Russian crime family. Obviously corrupt Connor and Murphy stage a dramatic assassination from "above", by killing everyone in a hotel room while suspended from the ceiling. It is here where the director has the brothers killing the head of the crime family at the same time while reciting a family prayer that entails them being "shepherds" for the lord and carrying out his commands to kill all that is corrupted. Also in the previous scene when agent Smecker is analyzing this crime scene he notes how to guys put pennies on the eyelids of everyone that they killed. They do this because in their religion the pennies are used to pay the toll to reach the after life. The director does this as another religious symbol in the movie. He also shows the murder scene before showing the audience the actual murders being carried out in every act to add to suspense and drama; this also allows the audience to easily comprehend the various symbols that are being shown. The McManus' friend Rocco also shows up after the brothers kill everyone because he is ordered to kill the same people from his Mafia Boss, however, he is given a revolver with only 6 bullets and there are 9 targets. Connor and Murphy quickly bring to his attention that the "Boss" wants him dead and in turn he joins them on their quest to rid evil and ultimately seek revenge on those who wanted him dead.
Feeling betrayed Rocco begins his revenge by taking out two low ranking soldiers in the Yakavetta crime family and a bartender who knew about the plot to kill him. Next he takes out the Boss' under boss, Vincenzo (Ron Jeremy) and a few more foot soldiers at a strip club. It's at this crime scene that Agent Smecker figures out there are now 3 men involved with the murders and he sees the pattern of dead criminals connected to Russian and Italian crime syndicates. When Papa Joe, the Yakavetta family boss, finds out his men are being knocked off he becomes fearful that he is next and uses his power to call in Il Duce (The Duke), played by Billy Connolly. The Duke is a current prisoner who was used by the Yakavetta crime family to kill off their own. Papa Joe states his obsession with killing "made" men. In the scene when he is being released, Troy Duffy makes the viewer believe that Il Duce is very dangerous, a real killing machine. He does this by chaining him up and moving him around in a cage on wheels while the prison guards cock their shotguns.
The movie heats up in the next set of murders when the boys go to the house of a man that killed an entire family in cold blood. The director shows the man with sunglasses, a fedora and a trench coat enter the house without hesitation and kill a mother, father and their kids like it was clockwork, not flinching a bit. This is how Duffy shows the audience that this guy needs to fall victim to the brothers. And who would not want a man who kills children in their neighborhood off the street? The 3 men enter the house and kill everyone inside. To show how close agent Smecker is on to them he has Dafoe acting out the murder right alongside them in his reenactment of what he believes has happened and it is spot on. As Connor, Murphy, and Rocco are leaving the house they are met by Il Duce outside and a fire fight erupts. Everyone involved gets shot, however Rocco looses his finger and Smecker finds it. Yet again Duffy has Dafoe reenact the firefight outside with extreme intensity. Showing the magnitude of what is becoming of the brothers and their tirade.
After a night of boozing Smecker stumbles out of a bar and enters a church to seek guidance from a priest. He is starting to like what the McManus's are doing but he, like society, does not know what to make of these brothers. He is a man of the law and is supposed to put murderers behind bars, but at the same time they are killing the corrupt and not the innocent. It is here where the priest tells him that "The ultimate will of god is far greater than the laws of man." This is perhaps the overall theme of the movie and where Duffy justifies what Connor and Murphy are doing. This is also why Smecker takes their side. He contacts the guys and they tell him they are going to Papa Joe's mansion to kill him, however, Smecker finds out Papa Joe knows they are coming.
With this knowledge, agent Smecker knows the McManus's and Rocco are in trouble, so he decides to dress as a woman and become a hooker to gain access to the house. It is already known that Smecker is gay, but his radical belief in what these two brothers are doing is so strong that he is willing to go to that extreme for what he believes in. This is how the director displays the agent's conviction. While inside the house agent Smecker seduces a Mafioso and then kills him. After he kills him, Smecker says "too far". He realizes that he has gone too far in killing a man and should leave murder up to Connor and Murphy. Meanwhile Connor, Murphy and Rocco are being held captive by the rest of Papa Joe's men. Not knowing what to do with them Papa Joe goes into the room and kills Rocco. This scene, possibly, is the director's way of symbolizing that Rocco was not intentionally good-hearted at first as I mentioned earlier with regards to the brothers having good intentions from the beginning. While reciting their family prayer over Rocco's dead body Il Duce walks in and begins to recite the prayer as well. It is here the audience finds out that Il Duce is related to the McManus brothers. The reason Papa Joe says that Il Duce liked to kill made men is because he too has the same beliefs as Connor and Murphy, he wanted to rid the city of evil.
The final scene the director illustrates is the court trial of Papa Joe. In this scene everyone in the courtroom is saying how he will be found innocent because of his high ranking power in the crime family and his ability to bribe city officials. This shows how justice is never served and the indifference between good men. The brothers and their new 3rd man, Il Duce, break into the courthouse with the help of agent Smecker and other police detectives. They then tell everyone what they are doing and why they are killing everyone. It is here that the three of them execute Papa Joe in front of the entire courtroom. This shows the city of Boston that no one is untouchable from the wrath and will of god. As the movie ends and the credits role, the director puts on interviews of the people of Boston being asked what they think of the saints. The answers are mixed between support, dislike and no comment. This shows that some people in society believe in what they do and that god gave them the divine right to kill, some believe that what they are doing is wrong and that the police should bring justice to those that are evil and corrupt and then there are those who do not want to be seen on television talking about it. It comes down to what their religious beliefs are.
Similar to real life, each member of society in Boston has to come to a belief that either the brothers are doing the righteous work of god, or are sinking down to the level of those they murder and kill. Director Troy Duffy does a great job visualizing the symbolisms of religion in the film and the moral opinions of the city of Boston.
BIBLIOGRAPHYhttp://www.freewebs.com/sakate/index.htmAnnonymous."The Boondock Saints". Siver Screen Reviews. 2004. Annonymous. "The Boondock Saints: Never Has Vigilantism Seemed so Harmless".Cublerson, William C.Vigilantism: Political History of Private Power in America.New York:Greenwood Press.1990Die.net. "Saint". Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. Jeffress, Terry L. "Boondock Saints". Inerrogation Reports. 2006.